Colour On Cly­de­side

Paint par­adise for graf­fiti artists

The Scots Magazine - - Contents - By GARRY FRASER

Glas­gow arts venue’s ground-break­ing graf­fiti site

THERE is not much ev­i­dence left in Glas­gow of the days of the to­bacco trade, where the city’s mer­chants made their for­tune. There are Vir­ginia and Ja­maica streets, St An­drew’s in the Square, once the To­bacco Lords’ par­ish church, and a to­bacco mer­chant’s house in Miller Street, cur­rently be­ing re­stored.

How­ever, there is one build­ing that echoes the vi­brancy of those heady days of the 18th cen­tury, a to­bacco bond on the banks of the Clyde that is home to SGW3, a multi-arts venue which is at the heart of the city’s bustling arts scene.

Although it has been pro­vid­ing live events, artists’ stu­dios and gallery spa­ces since 2005, a new ad­di­tion to the set-up only opened a few months ago. The Gal­va­niz­ers Yard is an out­door area, a fa­cil­ity that sets SGW3 apart from other arts venues in the city – Glas­gow’s first-ever le­gal graf­fiti site.

“Graf­fiti is a tricky word as it con­jures up a lot of dif­fer­ent things for dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” says SGW3 di­rec­tor An­drew Flem­ing-brown. “We’re very in­ter­ested in it as an art form and Gary Mackay, who is one of the man­agers here, has been work­ing with Net­work Rail and British Trans­port Po­lice for a num­ber of years on large com­mis­sioned projects at track-side.

“We found out that while these projects were on­go­ing, track-side van­dal­ism was dra­mat­i­cally re­duced. So, with that and a his­tory of suc­cess­ful projects, we man­aged to get Sco­trail own­ers Abel­lio to spon­sor part of the de­vel­op­ment of the yard last year and we’re work­ing on cre­at­ing this all year round.

“It’s a graf­fiti fa­cil­ity in a safe en­vi­ron­ment where peo­ple can de­velop their skills and cre­ate pro­fes­sional op­por­tu­ni­ties. There’s an artis­tic mes­sage to be learnt and a so­cial mes­sage as well – get­ting these guys off the tracks, out of dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ments and to some­where a bit more like a stu­dio.”

The yard has a foot­print of 2300 sq me­tres (25,000 sq ft) and can also host live events, with a ca­pac­ity for up to 5000 peo­ple. In the past year it has hosted Scotland’s big­gest graf­fiti fes­ti­val, Yard­works, and a range of food and art and de­sign mar­kets. The old bond ware­house it­self has a ver­sa­til­ity for cor­po­rate din­ners, film screen­ings, prod­uct launches, fash­ion shows and pri­vate hire.

How­ever, SWG3 is a liv­ing, grow­ing or­gan­ism that is con­tin­u­ing to evolve. “We’re al­ways look­ing for the next op­por­tu­nity,” says An­drew.

“We have the lease on a num­ber of the rail­way arches be­side us which make great re­tail spa­ces – that’s some­thing that we’re look­ing to grow over the next nine to 12 months. We’ve just opened a new café bar and started a new restau­rant menu in the evenings and we’ve had plan­ning con­sent for a rooftop restau­rant and bar.”

An­drew got his in­spi­ra­tion when work­ing in a New York venue called PS1. “That place def­i­nitely had a last­ing im­pact on me,” he says. “It showed me how an arts cen­tre and space could fa­cil­i­tate many dif­fer­ent art forms, ex­hi­bi­tions and events. That was a mix we didn’t re­ally have in Scotland.”

The mix at SGW3 has to be seen to be be­lieved. Not only do they have the Gal­va­niz­ers and ware­house, but there’s also a po­etry club, TV stu­dio, photo stu­dio, de­sign stu­dios and theatre.

It’s def­i­nitely putting the “multi” into multi-arts.

The Gal­va­niz­ers on the banks of the Clyde

The yard is a thriv­ing hub

A graf­fiti artist at work in the yard

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